Articles filed under General from Hawaii
First Wind, a wind energy company that has pledged $50 million to help buy Molokai Ranch lands, is under investigation on the mainland for allegations of improper dealings with public officials and anti-competitive practices. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began investigations in July to find out if the company obtained land-use agreements with residents and public officials through bribes and submitted false statements for permits and during environmental studies.
Plans to build the largest wind farm in the state on Lana'i are part of a vision to make the island a model of renewable energy, but the project is encountering some headwinds in the form of community concern. Not all Lana'i residents are pleased with the plans of David Murdock, the billionaire who owns 98 percent of the island, to develop a $750 million wind farm for exporting power to O'ahu via undersea cable. ...concerns about Murdock's plans led 32 Lana'i residents to sign a letter published by The Advertiser on Aug. 10 in which the author, Robin Kaye, questioned how the plan would affect access, the environment and whether it would benefit Lana'i residents. Murdock doesn't need a vote of approval from residents to develop the wind farm, but opposition could delay or derail his plans.
While everyone seems to want more sources of renewable energy on Maui, residents who spoke at a recent Public Utilities Commission hearing weren't too thrilled with the idea of having to help pay for it. Hawaiian Electric Co. and its subsidiaries, including Maui Electric Co., have asked the commission to approve an across-the-board monthly rate increase for each Maui County customer of about $1.80 a month for renewable energy infrastructure. ...MECO President Ed Reinhardt explained that this increase is necessary for the company to build the renewable energy infrastructure it needs to attract private investors and to build transmission lines and substations to sites that are always remote. "So if HECO selects remote locations why should we have to pick up the tab," said Rob Parsons, former county environmental coordinator.
A Maui wind farm operator has filed a complaint against Maui Electric Co. and its parent, Hawaiian Electric Co., with the state Public Utilities Commission. UPC Hawaii Holdings, which runs the Kaheawa Wind Power farm above Maalaea, is asking the commission to investigate the process the utility used in selecting a second wind farm project for the island. UPC Hawaii had proposed expanding its current 20-turbine farm, which supplies 30 megawatts of power to Maui Electric, to add another 21 megawatts of power. But HECO selected another project bid by Shell Wind for a farm in Ulupalakua on the east side of Maui. HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said the decision was based on location.
Hawaiian Electric Co. is offering its data on wind conditions and bird activities in the Kahuku area of Oahu to anyone who wants to go into the wind-energy business. The utility spent millions to develop a wind farm near Kahuku in the 1980s, but pulled the plug after a series of technological and logistical problems made the project untenable.
In a letter addressed to MCSC President Glenn Izawa, Nicholas reiterated what he had said in a July letter published in The Molokai Times stating that the Ranch is not for sale. "MPL is utterly committed to the Community-Based Master Land Use Plan for Molokai Ranch with its resultant donations to the Molokai Land Trust, easement protections and implementation of all other aspects of the Plan," the letter said. "Because of our commitment to the Master Plan, MPL is not for sale."
"In addition to showing our support for the Ho'i I Ka Pono campaign, our pledge underscores our commitment to the people of Moloka'i and their efforts to determine how their lands will be used in the future," said Gaynor. "Once the community has regained control of the lands owned by Molokai Ranch, we will work directly with community members to lease a portion of the land to build a 21st century wind farm that will generate clean wind energy for Moloka'i and O'ahu."
The Molokai Governor's Advisory Council met last Tuesday at Kulana 'Oiwi Center to hear a proposal from UPC Wind. The company would like to erect windmills on Homestead land on the West End, and has been traveling to community groups all over the island for the past several weeks. The group says that it will not go forward with its proposal without community support of the project.
UPC hopes that the nineteen towers would eventually be part of an overarching plan that includes a total of 140 wind turbines on Molokai, most of which would be on the island's west end. ..."We don't want to be the ones on the back burner," one attendee said during a question and answer session. "Our electricity is high...We have the right to take care of our community." "Let Oahu build their own propellers," homesteader Hana Yasso said later.
The new wind farm on the Big Island's South Point is steadily producing power for Big Island residents. But it's not steadily shrinking local electricity bills...... But the wind power isn't lowering electricity bills even though it is locally generated, unlike the imported oil the state is so heavily reliant on. HELCO pays for the wind farm electricity by calculating the "avoided cost" or the cost the utility would have to pay if it were to build or generate power on its own. Lee said rates vary because they are tied to oil prices.
Soaring fuel prices and steady tradewinds are making wind the new oil in Hawaii. As wind companies scramble to gain a foothold across the state, Molokai Ranch land is emerging as a sought after resource. During a Hawaii State Office of Planning meeting on Molokai in late May, it was revealed that there are two wind companies competing for the build-out of wind farms on Molokai Ranch land.
The discovery poses a clear challenge in the design and maintenance of a major windfarm proposed by Castle & Cooke for Lana'i. The company is working on plans for a $750 million field of wind generators that would ship power to O'ahu via undersea cable. Conventional windmills are cited by opponents of such structures as a threat to migrating birds. It is not clear yet whether it would be possible to site wind generators out of petrel flight paths, or perhaps to manage the windfarm in a way that warns the birds away from danger. On Kaua'i, researchers use radar to identify flight paths of ‘a'o.
Former Hawaiian Electric Industries Chairman Bob Clarke says the transmission of electricity from Lanai to Oahu by undersea cable is feasible because the ocean isn't as deep as on some other paths considered in the past. Castle & Cooke, which owns most of Lanai, said last week it not only has hired a Mainland company to build a solar power farm for Lanai's electric needs, but it is also seriously considering a massive wind power farm with the idea of selling the power to Hawaiian Electric for use on Oahu.
Castle & Cooke Inc. yesterday said it may build a $750 million wind farm on Lana'i that could provide 15 percent to 20 percent of O'ahu's power needs. The company, which owns 98 percent of Lana'i, is conducting wind and other feasibility studies in preparation for a decision on whether to build what would be the state's largest wind farm, said Castle & Cooke President Harry Saunders. "Our intention is to go forward," Saunders said yesterday. "We're hoping to have a ‘go' or ‘no go' decision by the end of the year."
With its ocean breezes, ample sunlight, pounding waves and a continuously erupting volcano, Hawaii seems blessed with the means to produce clean electricity and achieve energy independence. But that isn't anywhere close to happening. For one thing, the technology isn't quite ready. The big drawback with wind and solar energy, for example, is that the flow of electricity stops when the breeze dies down and the sun sets. Since there is no good way to store the power for use later, homeowners need conventional electrical service - meaning fossil fuel-burning plants - as a backup.
Down a dirt road on America's southernmost island, 16 windmills tilt their sleek blades toward the ocean, as dependent on the whims of Hawai'i's tropical breeze as residents are on the electricity they help produce. The Hawi wind farm on the Big Island makes clean and affordable energy, but the 100-foot-tall wind turbines stop when the air is still. Most forms of renewable energy face a similar difficulty nationwide - they're cleaner than oil and coal but fall short on reliability and convenience.
Kaheawa Wind Power II LLC has applied for a state conservation district use permit to install four 200-foot-tall meteorological measurement towers to gather data on wind speed and direction for possible expansion of its wind farm above Ukumehame. The towers, which would be secured by guy wires, would take measurements for at least six months, according to the company’s permit application. Kaheawa Wind Power operates 20 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in the same area that produces 30 megawatts for Maui Electric Co. An environmental assessment is not required for the temporary towers.
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) – GE Energy Financial Services announced Thursday that it was investing $270 million in wind farms in Illinois and three other states. The company, a unit of General Electric Co., is investing along with a subsidiary of Wachovia Corp. into six wind farms owned by affiliates of global investment and advisory firm Babcock & Brown. “This transaction continues the expansion of the geographic footprint and technology mix of our wind holdings,” said Kevin Walsh, GE Energy Financial Service’s managing director and leader of renewable energy. All the wind farms have either been completed or will be completed by the end of April, except the Pennsylvania operation, expected to be finished by December. In Illinois, the farms are in Lee and LaSalle counties. The other states are California, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. The announcement is the latest in a series of deals to expand GE’s foothold in wind power production. On Wednesday, GE Energy Financial Services announced that it would sell 165-megawatt wind farms in Germany for 5.2 million shares of Theolia, a Paris-based company that generates electricity from wind power. GE Energy Financial Services also purchased an additional 1.2 million shares of Theolia stock for about $26 million and could increase its ownership to up to 22 percent of Theolia. In September, GE Energy Financial Services announced it would finance the construction and operation of Tawhiri Power LLC’s wind farm in Hawaii.
A 2.3-megawatt North Kohala wind farm will remain shut down until late next week while workers try to bypass a high-tech "shock absorber" that was severely damaged Monday in a fire believed to have been caused by Sunday's earthquakes.
Both senatorial candidates as did many other candidates used the same talking points for Hawaii’s energy future. Many uniformly supported and promoted wind, solar, and ethanol, as the road to energy nirvana. The politics of Hawaii demands an absolute deference to these energy sources or risk political oblivion. But it needs to be said that a state or nation heavily dependent upon these future energy sources is in serious trouble. Yet this is where the political forces of Hawaii are leading.